The efficacy of direct anti-HCV drugs improves early post-liver transplant survival and induces significant changes in waiting list composition

Published:February 23, 2018DOI:


      • After the approval of DAAs, post-liver transplant survival has significantly increased.
      • The improved survival of LT recipients is exclusive to anti-HCV positive patients.
      • A high access to DAAs before and while on the wait-list and after LT explains these results.
      • DAAs also result in a significant decrease in anti-HCV patients included on the wait-list.

      Background & Aims

      The efficacy of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) has dramatically changed the prognosis of patients with chronic hepatitis C. We aimed to evaluate the impact of DAA therapy on the composition of the liver transplant (LT) waiting list and the early post-transplant survival.


      We evaluated all patients admitted to the waiting list for a primary LT between 1st January 2008 and 31st of December 2016 in Catalonia, Spain. Time span was divided into two periods according to the availability of different antiviral therapies: 2008–2013 (interferon-based therapies) and 2014–2016 (DAA). Changes in the indications of LT and the aetiology of liver disease, as well as post-LT patient survival, were evaluated according to the year of inclusion and transplantation, respectively.


      We included 1,483 patients. Admissions in the waiting list for hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related liver disease decreased significantly, from 47% in 2008–2013 to 35% in 2014–2016 (p <0.001), particularly because of a reduction in patients with decompensated cirrhosis. In contrast, NASH-related inclusions increased from 4% to 7% (p = 0.003). Three-year post-LT patient survival increased significantly in the second period in the whole cohort (82% vs. 91%, p = 0.002), because of better survival in anti-HCV positive patients (76% vs. 91%, p = 0.001), but not in anti-HCV negative patients (88% vs. 91% p = 0.359). Anti-HCV positive serology, the time period of 2008–2013 and higher donor age were independently associated with post-LT mortality in the whole cohort; while time period and donor age were independently associated with post-LT mortality in anti-HCV positive recipients.


      The high efficacy of DAAs is associated with significant changes in the composition of the LT waiting list and, more importantly, results in improved post-transplant survival.

      Lay summary

      The efficacy of the new direct-acting antivirals is associated with a significant improvement in survival of patients undergoing liver transplantation because of hepatitis C virus-related liver disease. In addition, it has decreased the number of patients with hepatitis C that need a liver transplant.

      Graphical abstract


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      Author names in bold designate shared co-first authorship

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